Once upon a time we used to shop for clothes. For shoes and bags and bracelets and hair brushes too, but mainly clothes. Pick this, that and the other from the aisles, slip them off the hangers with a tender urgency – ‘Don’t you have this in other colours, in another size, with longer sleeves, in a whiter white?’ – and disappear into the trial room to try them on one after the other and stare at our reflection narrow-eyed, lips pursed, lost in dreams of a future us just killing it.
Casual, fancy, party, picnic, formal, informal, home, office, indoor, outdoor, daytime, night out... We mixed and matched, we went all out clashing. We were artist and canvas, creating self-drama at will. When we were down, we dressed up. When we were up, we went all out insane. Sashaying down imaginary ramps, making grand entrances. We went from quiet mouse to flamboyant peacock in a jiffy.
We experimented with colours but kept going back to black or white. We pitched white against off-white in linen and applauded that mildest of mild contrasts. We collected saris from every state. The denim section was insatiable; blue, white, cream, beige, even red and purple. Fringed, distressed, speckled, ripped. From drain pipes to bell bottoms, we wore it all.
Now we have the work from home collection. Covid couture has brought those clothes out of our cupboard that we thought had died. The posh hand me down sweater from the New York cousin, the exorbitantly priced designer something you picked up to impress whoever was with you – but does not fit in any imaginably human way, the stuff you bought on a whim at the airport because your flight was late, and those multiple mystifying purchases that do not bring out your eyes or anything else. These have become the garments to wear currently to beat the blues. What remains inside your wardrobe unworn now are those itsy bitsies you bought to wear when you become size zero one day, which is farther away from all the fantasies you can ever fantasise.
Once we worried about how we draped the dupatta, about our bra straps peeping, about saris matching blouses, about not flashing our stretch marks at the world, about the white top staying tucked into the waistband of our jeans till the day is done. But now! No one dresses up for the Swiggy guy, the Dunzo guy, the FedEx guy, any guy – sad but true.
From fretting endlessly over what to wear on an evening out, we are now busy not caring about what we have on while staying in. We only have to grab what comes in hand to wear day after day, night after night. Morning wear is indistinguishable from afternoon wear, which blends nicely into evening wear.
‘Oh, what shall I wear today?’ is no longer a pressing question. ‘I must change my clothes at least once a day’ is more like it. Also, ‘Must remember to wear something,’ when we dart out to park the trash.